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Easter Sunday Wanderings / Frogs + Mayapples

A post sharing my notes and photos from a cold, wet walk on Easter Sunday. I was still able to find interesting life, wait till you see the video clip with Tadpole eggs! Please click images to see them larger or be taken to see them as cards you can zoom in on, use the BACK button to return.

Easter Sunday 2011

Below is a picture of what it looked like when I was sitting on a pile of dead logs, my rubber boots deep in water, and trying not to drop anything! My hands were cold, as you could guess from my trusty wool flip back mittens. This is just a small, quick sketch done with watercolor crayons.

Watercolor crayons, brush and journal on my lap above the water.

Then I video taped the little tadpoles floating in the water here in front of the pond, have a look!

By the time I got to Oak Lane, where the wild Mayapples grow, I was tired and cold.

A sea of green umbrellas, like little people waiting in the woods!

I was excited to see the Mayapples though, they always surprise me as they don’t grow anywhere else on my land. They look like a sea of green umbrellas held by miniature people standing in the woods, maybe they’re fairies?

Mayapples unfurl like soft umbrellas

Mayapples softly unfolding.

Mayapple unopened yet, such a tender green with hints of reddish tints.

Below just a few small sketches done while standing and looking down at them. I had to give up soon though, my back was seizing up saying enough!

Mayapples + Green Frogs

I was excited to find a Green Frog in the pasture on my way back, he was moving slow because it was so cold. I was actually able to snatch him up after he dove under water! heehee…I felt like a little kid!

Meet my new friend, Mr. Green Frog

Always gentle with creatures I touch, I was careful how I held him, and with experienced deftness (;-) ) whipped out my tiny camera and got some close up shots of him.

Mr. Green Frog poses for his 3/4 profile shot!

Don’t worry, I didn’t entertain thoughts of kissing him! I already found my prince! But I do think Mr. Green Frog was trying to look handsome.

Green Frog in the grass

Then he was gently returned to the grass and as many frogs will do, just sat there while I continued to snap pictures and also do the small watercolor sketch. They believe themselves to be invisible while not moving. Here’s a tip from me, when photographing a frog, or any critter, take some shots right away in case they jump away. Then after you have a few, try moving your position a bit or as I sometimes do, move some grasses that might be in the way. With this green guy, I was actually able to gently remove grasses in front of his face, then from his body as he sat frozen, watching me. It was a cold day so maybe he was extra sluggish. Then he jumped away into the water and I took more shots.

I really do like frogs and feel a bit guilty for not doing a nice little painting for you to see, BUT I was really cold and wet by the time I met Mr. Green Frog and couldn’t wait to get home for a hot bath. I’d like to do some drawings from my photos though, when I do you’ll be first to know!

I hope you enjoyed coming on my walk with me, it was kind of lonely until I met the tadpoles and then the frog. I guess you’re always surrounded by friends if you stop to meet them!

Here’s some links to fun things in my shop with “Mr. Green Frog” on them:

Green Frog postcard postcard
Green Frog postcard by MaryMcandrew
Shop for another postcard design from Zazzle

“Wind in the Willows” – Clouds and Crayons

April 14, 2011

(if viewing this in an email subscription, please go to the website to see the video clip and pictures better)

Clouds Over Fox Lane

Above, this is the first view Ginger and I got when we started out on our walk; clouds, gorgeous clouds stretching as far as the eye could see! I love the way the old pasture fence looks here along “Fox Lane”.

“Wind in the Willows”

I’ll show you right away what I ended up sketching after we walked all the way out on the property. (At the end of my post I have links to note cards and gifts using this image!) I had a page in my journal with the first verse of the song from “The Wind in the Willows”, the popular children’s tv show, written in permanent ink. I knew eventually I’d do some kind of painting over it of trees.  I just love the song from this show, I posted a link below so you could have a listen too!

Theme Song from “Wind in the Willows”

My Watercolor Crayons + Waterbrush

To explain a little how I did the sketch, as I stood in about 8″ of water on a particularly wet path, I held my sketch journal and balanced the little box of crayons on it. I have taken all my water soluble crayons and cut them in half so I could carry more in a smaller space and less weight! I put it on a peice of paper towel to protect a little watercolor I’ve got on that page, and I put a piece of paper towel (Viva) next to the box for wiping my brush on. I used one flat water brush, a favorite of mine when I want to do very quick washes and scrubbing. This particular brand releases water quite fast, at first I didn’t like that but now it’s also why I DO use it!

First thing I did was to scribble with white crayola wax crayon where I wanted to show white clouds. It doesn’t really show up until you color around it, but if you tip your paper a tiny bit you can see it. Then I colored very quickly with two different blue water soluble crayons all around; I found that I could shade right over the white wax and it didn’t really disturb it, cool! Then very quick scrubbing with the waterbrush to wet and move the color around. I grabbed the paper towel and sometimes blotted off the white cloud and it helped soften the look. Using the grey crayon ‘under’ each cloud really helped to pull them out and make them look real.

The trees were drawn on with a brown wc crayon from Derwent, using the hard edge to make branches. It works really great on damp paper, the lines are very vivid. I must say, it’s the scribbley look of the painting that I like so much! I could go back and soften the bottom of the moon, but it was a field sketch and I think I’ll just leave it as is. It was hard to get the look in such a tiny thing while hand holding my journal.

View I painted from while standing in water!

This is a photo from the spot I was standing, can you see the tiny moon in the middle?

A close up of the moon

Sometimes when you’re outside in the middle of the day, if you look for it you’ll see the moon amongst the clouds. I always think it’s a nice surprise.

Ginger all wet!

Yes, Miss Ginger is wet but doesn’t mind. This is the lane I stood in to do my sketch.

An old nest left from last year

I spotted some old nests as I walked, this one was out near “The North Pole”, the furthest part of my land. It’s amazing how many nests are at our eye level but we don’t see them when the bushes are in full leaf.

Clouds in Spring Over the Lane

I’ll leave you with one more pretty picture. I just love the colors in this, the blues contrasting with the golden colors of the dried grasses, the reds in the tips of the bushes and trees and the purpley colors under the clouds.

I hope you enjoyed our walk again out on “Long Lane Farm” at Springtime. Please enjoy the pictures links shown below, they go to prints, note cards, tee shirts and a magnet using my “Wind in the Willows” field sketch painting, in my shop. I can’t wait to order a tee shirt for myself!

Visit my SHOP to see many beautiful note cards with photos of the new Spring flowers, bees, landscapes etc!

“Walk with Peepers and Golden Snails”

(if you are viewing this from your email subscription, please visit my blog on the actual website to see the video and links properly)

Today I went for a walk with Ginger. We ventured forth out into the wet lanes and fields, the mud sucking at our feet, water swirling as we waded. Not all my land is wet mind you, but this time of year it certainly is in some areas.  I start my post off today with my drawings of the little snail I met while out walking, because I knew you’d be curious to see him.

Little Golden Snail Sketches

I did these studies actually back at my studio while looking at him under a magnifying glass. I did some while in the field (you’ll see below) but it was so small it was hard to really get a good look at him while I sat on a log! So he came home for a visit. I first lightly sketched him with pencil then drew with a permanent ink pen and then watercolor on that. After I drew the swirly curly border I drew over it with one watercolor pencil then just dragged a wet waterbrush over all of it to soften it and make the color bleed out a bit.

Now back to our walk.

Secret Circle Lane

This is “Secret Circle Lane”, as wet as it always is in springtime; (click it for high res. view in my shop) how pretty reflecting the sky like that! Ginger and I crept quietly along through this water because I heard an interesting call from some kind of frog along with the zillions of peepers that were singing.

Here’s a short video clip I shot while standing in the water,  just to let you hear the sound of the Peepers calling.

my boots

Ah yes, the trusty boots! Can’t go anywhere without these mud boots or “Wellies”. Well these boots weren’t made for “walkin” they were made for “sloshin”!! I did see some interesting little critters in the water before our feet disturbed it, some snails and a few water beetles.


Oh, and there’s me…had to show you my favorite hat of all time and my Dad’s hunting coat! The hat I bought in England at a farm supply shop, where they sell the expensive horsey equipment and clothes. Well it WAS expensive too, BUT well worth ever penny! It’s waterproof, lined for warmth, has a flap that drops down over your ears and makes it fit your head like a helmet and has an elastic cord that goes under your chin for high winds. When the wind blew hard on the high hills of Northumberland, my wonderful hat stayed put!! The other nifty thing is it has a little button on the brim you click and you get two settings of led lights! High power beams!! I’m telling you we’ve used it to find our way on paths past dusk and it’s great for visiting old castle ruins because you can point your beam into dark places that you wouldn’t have seen before. I should get paid money to promote this hat!

And the wonderful old Woolrich hunting coat my dad gave me so I love it. He used to put it on when going out hunting, I still remember seeing him in the kitchen with the pants on with bright red suspenders and laughing playing like he was Santa! It is covered with pockets and has a special pocket at the back for carrying your ‘game’ home in. I have been known to carry sketchbooks there and always keep a spare kitchen size garbage bag for sitting on wet ground.

Crocuses in Aspen Hall

I told you before that we planted flowers in “Aspen Hall”, here’s two little crocuses I wanted to sketch.  Click to see a note card of it where you can zoom in and see it bigger.

golden snail

I love the close up pictures of this pretty little golden snail. I spotted him on the ground amongst the leaf litter, but in the sun he glistened like gold. I took my tiny Olympus camera on the macro setting and shot this picture through a close up part of my magnifying glass! It really works at getting a little closer. Click on the pictures to view note cards that you can view close up.

golde snail pointy end up!

Here’s another shot of him, I love the form of the shell twisting up like that.

Studying the snail closely for sketches

Now this picture is important because it shows you how tiny he was and when you need reading glasses to see things better, it doesn’t help. The other thing that made it difficult to draw him in the field was sitting on one little log made my back hurt terribly so I was not comfortable. I wrote my notes and did some little sketches anyways.

golden snail peeking at me

Another great shot, I love the patterns in the shell that the sunlight catches. And notice the subtle color that runs up through those eye stalks? I notice how well it matches the dead stick he was crawling on.

My Journal page

Here’s my actual journal page from my time sitting in “Aspen Hall”, go ahead and click it to read it.

Tiny Golden Snail with metallic gold watercolor paint added.

Now I had a little more fun with the snail studies I did by using some metallic watercolor paint on them. I took some pictures of the snail paintings tipped at an angle to catch the sun and really show the metallic watercolor paint I added on top. It was a lot of fun using it and really made it look like the snail did, it sparkled in the sun!

Golden Snails in watercolor with gold metallic watercolor over.

And one more shot showing the glitter in the full sun.

I hope you enjoyed our walk today and you didn’t even have to get your feet wet! 😉 Don’t forget to visit my SHOP by clicking the pictures above to see note cards of the little golden snail or the landscape photos in this post.

Here’s a note card using the watercolor studies:

Speaking of snails I’m honored to say there’s a wonderful blog written by two talented women one of which was inspired by my posts about the snail I found and did studies of while I was in England! Have a look here: “The Dao of Doing”

Studies of the Coast near Cullernose Point

Come with me on a sunny, breezy stroll along the Northumberland coast of England, south of Cullernose Point and Dunstanburgh Castle.

South of Cullernose Point, Northumberland

This sketch is done looking northwards while I sat on the grass. I used one water soluble “Inktense” pencil (Ink Black) by Derwent, ; after doing a light sketch I wet it with my waterbrush to create tonal values. It’s like doing an ink wash sketch, great for quick sketches and you can go back over it later with color. The inktense pencils are relatively permanent once dry, so I’m experimenting with using the black then coloring later from photos. These colors of Inktense are very intense, so you need to practice and go lightly with your pressure. You can also achieve very black areas which I like.

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Drawing near Cullernose Point

Here I am with my field sketchbook, what a view! (click on the picture to see it as a note card with a quote by Pablo Picasso)

Enjoy the many photographs I took below, they show the things we discovered as we walked and some I used later to do sketches from at home.

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

It’s funny, once you learn about something you start noticing it more and more, as is the case with snails for me. Now when we walk I see them everywhere!

Brown Lipped Snails

Brown Lipped Snails

These are Brown Lipped Snails; notice the brown line at the edge of their shell. I just love the striped patterns they have.

Pool with Grey Heron

Pool with Grey Heron

This is looking down from the coastal path we walked on, there is a Grey Heron in that pool down there.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Well spotted! He’s a beauty; we watched him fish in the pool as I took pictures from afar.

View of the coastal rocks we explored

Here’s another view of the coast where we walked. You can see two figures walking on the path ahead, that’s where we’ll be going.

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

When we ‘clambered’ down to the shore, (hey it’s an old word but it fits here!), we found lots of Limpets, snails and Periwinkles. It wasn’t until I looked at my pictures on the computer later that I noticed the bug, a “Sea Slater”, how interesting! The Limpets are living creatures that cling very tightly to the rocks, you’ll see a watercolor sketch below of one I did.

Yellow Scales

Yellow Scales

This is called Yellow Scales, a type of lichen that grows near the coast on rocks. It’s very beautiful along with the whitish lichens and grey rocks.

Southern Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

When we returned to the top of the cliffs, we found these small unusual orchids growing here and there. I was surprised at how tiny they were and may have passed them by if Gary didn’t point them out. As near as I can tell they are Southern Marsh Orchids, if anyone knows better, please let me know!

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

This photo will show you how tiny they were, the orchid is just in front of my sketchbook. I just lay in the grass and did a tiny light, sketch with a pencil. (click to see this and other photos like this, in my shop)

Shell and Flower studies

Shell and Flower studies

When I got home I downloaded my photos and did these studies from the laptop. I used watercolors for these, but using Titanium White this time for the white highlights and ‘wet’ look. I don’t usually use white paint, I rub or scrape off to create lights, but I quite liked using the paint for the glaze look. You can read my list of things we saw while there that day on my page.

Studies of Grey Heron

Studies of Grey Heron

The little studies at the top of the page show my experiment with “Inktense” and just a black watercolor pencil, using watercolor pencil to color it. I wanted to see how much the blacks would lift or blend, hoping they wouldn’t. As I thought the Inktense didn’t lift as well and that’s exactly what I wanted.

The heron studies are also done from the laptop, just painted without sketching him out first. The little one in the left corner was an experiment of painting solid blue water then lifting color and using white paint to add the heron after. I’m not thrilled with how it came out but you should always experiment!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this walk by the sea. Get outside and bring a small sketchpad with you, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll see when you sit and start to draw things around you; a whole new world opens up before your eyes.

Here’s a little video clip of the waves washing over the rocks where we were, enjoy!

NOTE: Many of the photographs in this post have been made into beautiful glossy note cards and gifts and are in my shop (home page link). There are many more besides the links in this post, I hope you have a look and please pass it on to friends!

“Fuzzy Buds and Spring Peepers” 3-20-10

Many birds were calling today but it was hard to see much on this cold day; I’m sure if I stopped to dig around in the leaves I would have found more life, but we mostly walked today or ‘slogged’. Read my notes to see what we did, saw and heard while out walking; we of course being me and “Ginger” my Australian Shepherd.  Here’s a picture of her to show you how wet some areas were!

Ginger on the wet lane

Ginger on the wet lane

3-20-10 Notes in My Field Sketchbook

3-20-10 Notes in My Field Sketchbook

I drew this little branch tip in the field while standing and then later colored it, but closed my book a little too soon and it smeared.

Bud of a red branched bush

Bud of a red branched bush

I took a picture of one of the branches to show how beautiful the colors are on it; also to show this unusual bud that each bush had, like a swollen rose hip. I’ll have to look up the native bushes to learn more about what I’m seeing. These bushes had little soft catkins on them also.

Below is a more careful study done the next day of two kinds of branch tips I collected and put into water. I’ll hopefully get time to color them too with my watercolors. Now, as they stand in a glass of water on my kitchen table, they are starting to burst forth into a more greenish fuzzy catkin.

Fuzzy Buds 3-21-10

Fuzzy Buds 3-21-10

Another thing we heard today, everywhere we went, were the Spring Peepers. They called so loudly and as you creep up to where the noise came from, you could be standing almost on top of them and still not see one! Click on this link to see (or hear) a short video clip of the Spring Peepers singing like mad in the watery ditch along “Long Lane”.

Spring Peepers Singing

Miniature Great Grey Owl Painting 6-5-09

"Great Grey Owl"

"Great Grey Owl"

My finished miniature watercolor painting of a Great Grey Owl, measuring a mere 2″x2″!  Be sure to check it out in my Owl Gallery too. It’s an owl named “Aspen” that I photographed at the Keilder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland England. I’ll show you the stages of painting and talk about how I did it below.

"Great Grey Owl" -first washes

"Great Grey Owl" -first washes

This shows the first stages of painting, the beginning washes to lay down the values, color hue and expression of the painting. I first started with a light sketch in pencil, lifting it as much as I could with a kneaded rubber eraser before painting.  Then I painted the washes and sprinkled salt on wet areas to see how it would ‘pull’ the color and create interesting patterns. It is at this stage of the painting that you can get a feel for how the painting will go, will you be loose and expressive? Will you go for more details? Sometimes I think we have to let our intuition guide us, or perhaps our mood.

First wash set up

First wash set up

This picture shows you my set up for the first washes, I always start flat on the table so the color doesn’t run. Many times on larger paintings I stand up and work loosely with my brush. (check out this short Utube video of me working on the “Screech Owl” painting, it shows how I paint loosely when standing). This set up shows my photo reference to the left, the salt above that, then my field palette to the right because I’m right handed, the water bowl above that. I keep a white paper towel folded nearby for wiping off excess water and it allows me to see if there’s paint left on my brush. You see my magnifying lamp which I find good because the light is cool and matches daylight; but I don’t use the magnifier on it as I find it clumsy to use my brushes under it and I bump into all the time when I lean in super close! Sometimes I use a hand held magnifying glass or you’ll see pictures later of my glasses.

Great Grey Owl -stage 3

Great Grey Owl -stage 3

Now here in stage 3 you see I’ve jumped ahead with lots of details and color. As you work, squint your eyes at the photo and your painting to catch large areas of value that need to be developed and notice color hues. At one point I felt my owl was too brown so I washed a very watered down blue grey over areas, but only on very dry areas. In areas you need to lighten you can either lift color with a damp brush and blot with a paper towel, or you can add it using white watercolor or gauche mixed with your paint colors.

Now on purpose I’m going to point out some things that I found to be unsatisfactory in my painting and I changed. At stage 3 here, I felt like I did a pretty nice painting! I was feeling like it was done, ah….no such luck. If you let it sit a day or two and return to it, or if you show it with the photo reference to a friend with a sharp eye, they’ll be sure to catch something ‘off’ with it.  If you’re a conscientious artist, you’ll be bothered by it until you fix it and you probably already knew it was wrong to begin with but wanted to ignore it!   Well lets just say my boyfriend has a good eye, sigh, well now he ‘did’ pick me didn’t he?  We both agreed the beak wasn’t right, I pointed it out to him then when he agreed it was back to the easel with it. I can’t believe how much I was able to amend the beak being that this is watercolor after all. People are afraid of watercolor because they think it’s unforgiving, wait until you see the changes I made.

Great Grey Owl -stage 4

Great Grey Owl -stage 4

Stage 4 shows the beak changed, I totally moved the angle of it and lengthened it! (see the enlargements below of these final stages too) If you take a damp brush and gently re-wet an area, and only the area you want to fix, you can then repeatedly rub it gently with a damp brush tip, blot it with a clean paper towel (I prefer Viva!) then clean your brush, wipe it off and repeat. Do this over and over, you’ll be amazed at how much you can lift. When I repainted the beak I thought like an oil painter, I laid down a more opaque yellow layer to clean and brighten the beak, then I kept putting washes over this dry layer to affect the color. It ended up with an unusual translucent look like a real beak would have.

As I did this, of course I started to notice other areas I wanted to improve upon. Sigh…such is the plight of an artist with a picky eye! Notice the area of light tan below his beak, I needed to bring out the lightness of it so I added white watercolor to some cad.yellow, and browns to create a tint for an underlayer. Another note about this painting, next time I will pick a much smoother paper, working with this much detail you need to keep your paper super smooth with no distracting texture.

Great Grey Owl -stage 5

Great Grey Owl -stage 5

Stage 5 shows how I painted detail on top of the tan area under the beak and the beak has more details added. The owl has an overall lighter look, this is because I kept stroking on little feathers with a tint of whitish blue grey to add detail. Now I thought I was done here, but remember that boyfriend of mine with the good eye? Well he helped me notice I had painted out the nostril! SIGH….yes, when I was adding the little hairs by the beak I must have done that so back to the easel. The picture at the beginning of the post is the final stage, fixed and finished!

Working with my magnifying glasses

Working with my magnifying glasses

This is me working with my reading glasses on and a little set of clip on magnifier lenses. In the photo I have the magnifying lenses lifted up so I can look at the paints in front of me, if they were down I’d need to get much closer to see what I was doing. So I would lift the lenses up when I would sit back a bit and take a look at the ‘whole’ painting and the photo, looking for areas that need attention. Then I’d flip them back down and get close for the detail painting. I wouldn’t use them for the initial stages of painting, you don’t want to focus on details at that point.

Also you notice here my setup is different than before, I have another pan of watercolors and have them set up on some jars so they are closer to my painting. Working with a tiny brush ( 10/0 liner) it dries out super fast and keeping my pallet nearer seemed to help. The nice thing about working on a miniature painting was being able to mix small amounts of color right in the pan lid. (the brush in the picture is not my liner brush)

The pictures below are so you can look at one section close up to see the changes I made to the beak and area around it.

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 3

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 3

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 4

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 4

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 5

Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 5

Great Grey Owl -close up detail finished

Great Grey Owl -close up detail finished

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about my painting. I looked forward to showing you my mistakes and how I fixed things as I painted because this is how it goes, it’s a process and doesn’t always go as easy as it looks. I like to encourage my students and others to keep looking at their paintings for more detail but most of all a good beginning drawing is crucial. As you can see here, I missed the beak angle and had to fix it later, but the more you paint and draw the better you’ll be at catching these things in your work. That’s my two cents!  Please leave me some comments and if you are interested in note card or prints please let me know.

For the fun of it, here’s some Utube links with owls!

This next one is Excellent! Great footage of a Great Grey Owl!

“Muncaster Castle Day Three, The Owl Centre” 9-10-08

My third day at Muncaster was so full, I did two posts to cover it, this is the second half!

The following pictures are all from the World Trust Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle on September 9th in the late afternoon after a busy day filled with hiking and exploring the castle. At the end of my day I walked around the owl yard and sketched a little…I was quite tired so I didn’t sketch too much! It was raining gently so I limited myself to a few brown watercolor pencils and watersoluble graphite pencils, a brown micron pen and a sepia micron pen. I listed the owls of England on my sketchbook page; Long Earred Owl, Short Earred Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, White Breasted Barn Owl.Above is a Buzzard that is being brought out to take part in the Bird of Prey show they put on everyday behind the castle.

This is a Buffy Fish Owl, they have a funny sort of look with their ‘ears’ flopping out to the sides many times.
This is a Mackinder’s Eagle Owl…the Eagle Owls are some of the largest owls in the world. I just love the sleepy look of this bird…I really want to do a painting of this one!
This gorgeous bird is the Oriental Bay Owl; I just love it’s patterns and colors! I feel another painting coming on!

This is a video of Red Tailed Kites flying around in their pen. Such a beautiful bird, it’s centres like this one that help educate people about Birds of Prey so they won’t kill them in the wild or take their eggs.

“Muncaster Castle Day Two” 9-9-08

Today was my second day at Muncaster Castle. I’ve uploaded a video for you to listen to at the end of this post, don’t miss it!

I was invited by Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington to visit he and his wife Philida for coffee in the morning at the castle, they are the couple who own the stately castle. How wonderful does that sound? I was also invited to bring my sketch book and my prints to share with them. Patrick had to meet with the woodsman who oversees the property so Philida, a wonderful person to share time with, and I sat on a silk covered couch in the library and enjoyed hot tea. We chatted about my artwork and the castle. The picture below shows some of the library, it was filled with wonderful paintings, antiquities and memorabilia. I like the miniature chairs on the table. Since it was before the general public was allowed in, I was left to wander freely about the library on the ‘other’ side of the rope! I wish I had a whole week to spend wandering around and drawing the interior of the castle.
Below is a little painting I did while up on the balcony of the library. The library is round and if you look up you’ll see there is a balcony with iron railings that goes all around it way up above. Well I was given a big old ancient key and told that I could use it to unlock the door to the balcony at my leisure! I did go up there and it was a little scary, you had to watch your step, the floor boards were old and the ramp around was quite narrow! But I’m adventurous…I wanted to explore! About the little painting, I had my painting kit on my waist, my small field palette, little bottle of water, small brushes and held the sketchbook while I worked. I set some things on the window sill and looked out over the valley through the very old and very drafty windows. It was blowing up a gale and very chilly outside, so I was glad to be in. This is a cherub statue with more antiquities and wonderful stained glass. I was walking down the stairs, a wide expanse of marble…and tourists were milling about with wonder in their eyes, and appeared Patrick. Patrick is a talented poet bard…and not shy. He stood on the stairs of their castle and recited one of his wonderful poems to all the visitors. He is genuinely interested in all who visit his castle!
Another view out a window in the great hall, everywhere you turned there were beautiful things to look at.

Then I picked a window just outside the billiard room to draw. I was in a narrow hall way outside it, so people were walking by, but I stood up as I drew this with my charcoal pencils, a stiff brush and tortillion. It was so chilly, but one of the ladies that worked at the castle, Candy, brought me hot tea! How nice was that? Very nice!! The perspective on this window was tricky, you have to remember when drawing NOT to draw what you think, but what you SEE, in the end it will (or should) come together. It’s funny how when you stop to draw other people stop and look, wondering at what is so interesting! I like the way the blustery clouds came out through the window.
This last photo is from the Tapestry room and shows a Tudor carved fireplace, it commemorates the victory over the Spanish Armada. I just loved looking at all the carvings throughout the castle. I really do wish I had more time to draw what I saw, but relied on taking photos to use later for drawing.
This is a video clip taken at my window sill which overlooked the owl yard…every morning I was greeted by the song of a European Robin singing.

“Swallow Hollow” Iroqouis Wildlife Refuge 8-12-08

What a day I had at the Swallow Hollow nature trail, part of the Iroqouis Wildlife Preserve. The above photo was just one of the many beautiful scenes I saw that day; the trail follows the water in a nice loop, sometimes going through woods, mostly near the marsh or some natural looking water canals. Much of the trail is a boardwalk to keep you up from the very wet ground, especially after such a rainy summer!

This is a picture of my new sketchbook cover, it’s a sketchbook that I designed and made myself with a long format. I thought it’d be fun to put some pictures of my paintings on the cover, to show people I meet some of my work. I can add or take pages from the sketchbook as I want to.

This is the first page of my sketchbook from my day out. I stopped at a nice area in the Tonawanda Wildlife Management area, Elizabeth Hilldurger Estate project. I was so happy to see two Great Egrets (or in my old Peterson guide American Egret) flying around. The one roosted in a tree far away, I tried to do some little sketches by looking through my binoculars.
The watercolor of the water scene I did using my little watercolor ‘altoids’ field kit and just a water-brush. It’s pretty simple looking but I did it quickly while standing up.

This is me pausing to sketch along the boardwalk. You can see I have my art kit bag on my waist and a backpack with other supplies on my back. Almost all of what I draw, I draw while I’m standing and looking at things.
Along the way on my walks I usually meet some nice people who are curious about what I’m doing. I met a couple walking their dogs, Papillions…Pudgie is the puppy furiously digging the hole in the back…Max is the one gazing up at his owner. Maybe this is the kind of dog I should get to keep me company in the house? I’ve seen them before and thought about it. Their owner told me Papillion means butterfly in french….well at least it’s their names meaning, I guess because of how they look with their ears perked.

Next is another page from my sketchbook, click it to see it closer. I met a little Leopard frog along the way and did quick little sketches of him, then painted it at home using metallic watercolor paints. He really had a metallic look to his skin, so beautiful! At the end of this post you’ll see a little video clip of him!

I saw many Harvestman spiders in the woods and did a sketch of one on a dying milkweed leaf. I also took photos so when I got home I was able to paint it with watercolors. I took step by step photos of the painting, perhaps I’ll get to post it separately later.
I did some reading about Harvestmen Spiders, which are only distantly related to spiders, they are not venomous, lack fangs and do not bite. They use their legs to walk, breath, smell and capture prey! There are 5,000 species, about 235 known in North America, most are drab brown or grey, but a few are rusty red, mottled spots or have a stripe down their back. Now that I know that, I know I was lucky to see a rusty red one, and the one I painted had a mottled kind of dark stripe on it. One more interesting detail to keep my eyes open for while hiking! I hope you take a closer look next time you meet one.

This next page shows a light pencil sketch I did of the path, I also took some photos so later I could color it in. I haven’t gotten that far yet! The mushrooms at the bottom of the page I went specifically to Swallow Hollow to try to find again and paint, I saw them there just a week before. I could use some help indentifying them if anyone has expertise in this area?? I have become fascinated with mushrooms and fungi…when you walk in the woods, just take a close look at the ground or on trees or dead logs, you’ll be surprised at what you might discover! I’ve seen gorgeous yellow or orange mushrooms that I didn’t expect. The picture of the orange mushroom I could use help identifying too.

I set up my stool in the woods and I painted this study from life. It was difficult because the lighting kept changing, first direct, raking light, then very dark shadows. As I painted a Harvestmen Spider crawled across my sketchbook, pausing over my painting to ‘taste’ the wet paint! Before I could get my camera, he crawled off down my leg….he being a spider that he was I helped him hurry off me! I don’t mind them too much, but don’t want them lingering. At least I can say, knowing they are harmless helps me not to react like Little Miss Muffet! Remember her story?

This is the last page from my outing…while I was in the field I sketched the tiny mushrooms in pencil…kneeling in the pine needles to gain a closer look. They’re done at life size. Then while walking later I went over the lines with a sepia colored Micron Permanent ink pen. Later at home I printed out the photos I took of them and added the watercolor. I have found that when I do something in graphite pencil in the field, I get disappointed at how it will smear or fade with all the use the sketchbook gets, so I like to use my micron pens a lot to draw.

The while fungus is fascinating…they are hard to notice…you might just step right past them, but you have to be aware of everything and look everywhere when you walk. These are also drawn at life size, aproximately 2″ tall and coming up like delicate white filaments from the forest floor. A mystery to me, if anyone can tell us please do.

The butterfly was a type I saw all day, following me it seemed, to see what I was doing in their woods? I sketched it in the field on a leaf, but later painted it from a photo. Can anyone help me with identifying it?

I added a short video clip of my meeting with the Leopard Frog along a sunny path, check it out!

“Allegany Nature Pilgrimage” (Thunderocks) 6-1-08

Well here I am the last day, the last hours of my time at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, spending it at the most beautiful place I found all weekend, Thunderocks. Before I left the park I drove up by myself to visit this wonder I kept hearing about, wow! it was well worth it. You drive up the hill, make a left turn at the four corners and just ahead, very easy parking and you are right there. It’s quite accessable for everyone.
The whole area is a bit unique as it was untouched by the glaciers so I’ve been told. The rocks are enormous, some as big as houses, and what a great place to bring your kids to let them marvel at this natural sight! (and climb a little!) You can see I’m wearing my binoculars and my sketchbag, I also had a video camera with me and took some nice videos. The little clip at the end is just with my tiny digital camera.

Here you can see a family climbing up, which helps to show the immense size of the rocks.

I just love the dapple effect of the sun on the rocks. It’d either be a painters dream or nightmare. The views are gorgeous, but the sun dapples ever moving and disappearing.

Though the ground was well worn around the rocks, there were still many pockets of wildflowers and ferns. I saw Clintonia, Wild Lily of the Valley, Star Flowers, and ferns.

Another beautiful view, showing mosses, ferns and trees. I’d love to sit up on one of those big rocks in the middle of the night and just listen to everything around me. I wonder what the Indians thought of these rocks? Did they use them as landmarks? Climb around on them as children too? Who knows.

This one reminds me of a green waterfall~ so lush!

I took the time to do a really quick little sketch before I left. You can see I put notes about a bird and bird song on the page. Below a short, corny video clip for you…but what can I say? I loved being there and didn’t want to leave!